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Background Information

On May 16, the Boston Herald published a column by John Silber entitled Silliness under Seattle stars. Silber viciously attacked the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board and the newly state authorized Kepler College of Astrological Arts and Sciences, which is now completing its first academic year of operation.

Read the original article in the Boston Herald

Response from President of Kepler College
Response from the Board of Trustees of Kepler College
Response from AFAN Media Watch
Response by Gary Lorentzen

Learn more about Kepler College


An Open Letter to John Silber, the Boston Herald and Boston University:

According to his biography from the Boston University website, John Silber is "the Chancellor of Boston University, an internationally recognized authority on ethics, on the philosophy of law, and on the philosophy of Immanuel Kant." He is a Professor of Philosophy and Law and Professor of International Relations. Apparently, even with all his academic credentials, Dr. Silber forgot to research his topic before writing about it. Had Silber actually done his homework, he would not have presented himself in such an ill-informed and ignorant manner. This column is an academic embarrassment.

Unfortunately, the column that appeared in the Boston Herald sheds more light on its author than it does on Kepler College. This column does more to damage the credibility of Dr. John Silber than Kepler College, the target of his ignorant attack.

In the very first paragraph, Silber shows how little he knows of Kepler's work. He states that Kepler's "scientific achievements were not decisive in making him the college's namesake," but that "his real attraction is that he believed, to a limited extent, in astrology." I would first of all recommend that Silber read Kepler's own defense of serious astrology Tertius Interveniens, wherein Kepler cautions scientists, when judging astrology, "from throwing the baby out with the bathwater."

Silber claims that Kepler "lived in the last years when a great scientist could believe in astrology." Perhaps I've missed something here. I thought science was about seeking truth, not dictating what was believable. Astrology does not require belief any more than does physics. It is simply a body of information that is either valid or not valid. Remember, great scientists of the 18th century believed that rocks couldn't fall from the sky because there were no rocks in the sky to start with! We now accept the presence of meteors.

Silber goes on to liken Kepler's relationship to astrology as a weakness. I suggest that it is Silber's rejection of astrology that is the weakness here. It is Silber's inability to look at the facts that is his weakness. He already "knows" that astrology is unbelievable, so he cannot even do the research. Has he read any of the literature? If he were a student at Kepler College, he would, by the completion of his freshman year of study, have a sound historical basis from which to understand the philosophical and scientific questions that he seems ill equipped to ponder.

The real damage that is done by Dr. Silber is not, however, ridiculing astrology. It is ridiculing the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board without doing any research. Silber is offended that this board has used the "power of law to make Kepler [College] the peer of the University of Washington." I assume that in making this strong judgment of professional educators, Dr. Silber read the Kepler College Catalog (available on its website), studied the program's educational objectives and familiarized himself with the course syllabi. If not, Dr. Silber has done himself and the college he represents a great disservice.

Silber goes on to claim "many in the public will recognize the state as certifying not merely Kepler College but astrology itself." Does this mean, Dr. Silber, that a licensed Bible college has state "certification" of a particular denomination of religion? Of course not! The Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board did not "certify" astrology. Its job is to certify the integrity of the educational process.

Dr. Silber demonstrates an entirely new level of ignorance with respect to his understanding of astrology when he writes it "is in fact a bizarre survival from pre-scientific times." His justification for this statement is that "its theories were worked out when people believed the Earth was the center of the universe..." I have some grave news for the erudite Dr. Silber. By his poor logic, algebra and geometry would also be "a bizarre survival from pre-scientific times." Let's be clear about this: these techniques also were worked out when people believed the Earth was the center of the universe. What does this matter? That Silber thinks modern astrology requires a pre-Copernican geocentric universe clearly demonstrates he knows nothing of astrological principles. Nothing.

In the Boston Herald article, Silber then goes on to describe what astrologers do and how their charts cannot possibly show why people are similar or different based upon their time of birth. I assume that, since Silber is an academician, that he has read the literature. I assume he is familiar with the volumes of statistical analysis around the work of Michel Gauqelin, the French statistician who isolated the relationship between success soldiers and the position of Mars at their birth. I assume that he has read The Case for Astrology by John Anthony West. I would also assume that he has spent time with the research publications from the International Society for Astrological Research. If, after familiarizing himself with the literature, he believes that astrology is "bunkum," I'm afraid he must present some data for his opinions. After all, that's what science is about.

Silber writes, "The fact is that astrology, whether judged by its theory or its practice, is bunkum." What does he know of astrological theory? And how does he give himself the authority to judge astrological practice? Silber claims it's "inexcusable for the government [Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board] to certify teachers of nonsense as competent or to authorize—that is, endorse—the granting of degrees in nonsense." I beg to differ. What is nonsense is assuming that authority in international relations or in the philosophy of Kant is automatically transferable to astrology.

According to Dr. Silber, it is difficult to think how the State of Washington could "use its authority in a way more foolish and degrading to real education." It is Silber who has used his authority foolishly. He has degraded himself, his venerable institution of Boston University and modern academia. He has cast his lot in favor of his irrational beliefs and against truth.

Dr. Silber's final act of desperation is to link Kepler College and its newly earned academic legitimacy with the hanging of witches in Massachusetts in 1692. He says that the State of Washington should not be excused for their folly. "They stand exposed as ignorant, foolish and contemptuous of the public interest." What will stand exposed from this ill-conceived attack on academic freedom and Kepler College by Dr. Silber will only be Dr. Silber's own foolish and contemptuous ignorance.

Academic astrology does not carry a "for entertainment only" disclaimer. With or without Dr. Silber, we have moved into a new cultural relationship with astrology that pushes our academic boundaries. Sciences are in the state of revolution. Physics, once the hardest of hard-core science, has now gone soft. Theoretical physicists are spiritual seekers. Biology has moved beyond the mechanical as our modern medicine grapples with issues of mind/body. Medical doctors and psychologists are integrating tools like astrology into their practice. In these modern times, judging astrology as nonsense demonstrates more about the observer than about the observed.

Kepler College is not an aberration. It is not a foolish mistake of Washington State. It is a symptom of the changing relationship between astrology, science and philosophy. Dr. Silber has an opportunity before him. He can admit that he spoke without knowledge and authority. He can, like a real academician, read the available literature. Or he can hold his posture of intellectual arrogance and stay in denial about the role of astrology in serious academic pursuit.

Sincerely,

Rick Levine
President, StarIQ
Trustee, Kepler College

Click here to visit Kepler College on the net.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Levine is Co-founder of StarIQ.com. He has been involved in the technology sector for 30 years. As a Founding Trustee of Kepler College, he is interested in the education of astrologers. As a frequent lecturer at astrology conferences, he teaches about the important relationships between science, astrology and our spiritual traditions. He writes the Daily Horoscope Column for Tarot.com, which is published on MySpace.com, Beliefnet.com, AOL.com, iGoogle.com, and more. He co-authors (with Jeff Jawer)

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For more information about Rick Levine, click here.

Other StarIQ articles by Rick Levine:

  • Opa Retreat - Marco Island, Florida -- April 22-25, 2004   2/7/2004
  • Winter Solstice Poem   12/19/2003
  • The Gift of the Magi   12/24/2001
  • Astrological Christmas Carols   12/20/2001
  • Solstice 2001   12/17/2001
  • Recent Saturn-Pluto Cycles   11/10/2001
  • The New Global Perspective   10/20/2001
  • Ben Affleck Turns 29   8/20/2001
  • A Christmas Poem   12/24/2000
  • Mercury Retrograde: A Modern Look   11/9/1999
  • The Mercury Retrograde Story   11/8/1999
  • ProSig October 1999   10/20/1999
  • Solar Eclipse August 1999   9/1/1999

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